The beer: CoCoNut PorTeR
The brewery: Maui Brewing Co.
Style: Robust Porter
ABV: 6 percent
Say aloha to Maui Brewing Co., the newest entrant riding the waves of the Arizona craft beer scene.
Coming all the way from Lahaina, Hawaii, Maui's microbrews all come in cans -- a conscious and responsible packaging choice, according to the brewers. Because the Hawaiian Islands host millions of tourists every year, they say, cans help keep broken glass from compromising the 120 miles of coastline. Plus they're easier to chill and carry -- perfect for the beach.
Though most Maui beers now on shelves are lighter summertime drinks, the most onoliscious is CoCoNut PorTeR, brewed with six varieties of malted barley, Cascade and Columbus hops, and hand-toasted coconut.
Ignore the fact that the beer's name LoOkS like iT WaS wRiTtEn By A 13-yEaR-oLd GiRl -- everything else about CoCoNut PorTeR is mature. Pouring a dusky mahogany with copper highlights, it's topped by a sandy tan head that's about one finger thick, fuzzy, fizzy, and the color of toasted marshmallow.
Aromas of toasted peanuts and almonds combine with dark chocolate, sweet coconuts and burnt sugar cookies to make the beer smell on all accounts like an Almond Joy.
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When a beer uses a flavor in its name, I expect it to be fairly prominent -- meaning you should be able to really taste the coconut in CoCoNut PorTeR. The only negative here is that there's only a hint of the tropical seed's (or fruit's or nut's, depending on your personal definition) presence. The first sip reveals a toastiness met by coffee, dark chocolate and sweet nougat. As you move the velvety brew over the tongue, woodsy pine notes from the hops deliver just enough bitterness to balance. Flavors of pie crust and the too-light toasted coconut linger after the finish.
Dearth of coconut aside, CoCoNut PorTeR benefits from flavors that are smoothly blended and not too heavy. It's a solid porter you could drink all night -- or all day, while catching swell at the glass-free beach. Okole maluna!
Food pairing suggestions:
Since there isn't a ton of coconut flavor in CoCoNut PorTeR to begin with, bring it out with foods that slather it on. Beefy curry is a good choice -- the roasted notes in the porter will mesh with the savory cooked meat and the coconut in the curry will enhance the flavor in the beer. Coconut cream pie is an obvious dessert choice that will benefit from the contrast of the porter's chocolate and the sweet vanilla in the pie.